Music and Travel

Since its birth, rock and roll and hotels have gone hand in hand. Whether it involves bands hitting the road on tour, infamously trashing a suite, or taking up temporary residence while working on an album, there’s an unmistakably inspirational quality to booking a room and letting loose. Luckily, a few hotels understand this relationship and offer their guests the ability to live like a rock star with some over-the-top music amenities. We strapped on our Stratocaster and hit the road to show you the hotel rooms bound to make music fans weak in the knees.

“You Spin Me Right Round (Like A Record)”: Hotel Saint Cecilia

Front Desk at the Hotel Saint Cecilia

Austin is a city that’s known for its hip music scene and hip crowds. It’s not surprising, then, that the Hotel Saint Cecilia has done away with a traditional front desk in favor of a cool collection of vinyl records and a turntable that guests are free to use. (The hotel is named after the patron saint of music and poetry, after all.) In-room record players and iPod docks make it easy to take the party back to your room, where decor reflects the artistic lifestyle Austin loves to support.

“Two Turntables And A Microphone”: Ace Hotel NY

Medium Room at the Ace Hotel NY

Like the Hotel Saint Cecilia, the Ace Hotel NY harkens back to a time when vinyl was king. Rooms have curated touches like Music Hall turntables with a vinyl library that allows guests to put their own spin (ha!) on their in-room entertainment.

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”: Hard Rock Hotel Chicago

Hard Rock Hotel Chicago

By now, most people are familiar with the Hard Rock chain’s style of decorating their properties with rock memorabilia and photographs, and this hotel is no different. What sets it apart is the “picks.” program, which allows guests to test-drive Strats, Telecasters and other “surprise” models in the comfort of their rooms. Staff will deliver the ax (or bass) of your choice to your room, along with an amp and headphones so you can rock out without damaging your neighbors’ eardrums. You can find further inspiration in the décor: each floor is themed after a different artist, from Madonna to John Lennon. Just make sure you don’t pull a full rock star moment and trash your room.

“It Needs More Cowbell!!!”: Geejam

Recording Studio at the Geejam

Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to lay down tracks. Luckily, the Geejam agrees: There’s a fully functional recording studio on-site. Producer-turned-hotelier Jon Baker built the studio back when the resort was a secluded, private artists’ retreat. Some serious notables have laid down tracks here, including Bjork, Common, the Gorillaz, and India.Arie. The focus on music carries throughout the property — eclectic reggae music plays in public areas — all the way back to the rooms themselves. All rooms are musically themed suites and villas with names like the Ska Suite or the Drum and Bass Suite, featuring plenty of rock-inspired artwork. All suites come stocked with high-tech entertainment systems including iPod docks and AppleTVs that are preloaded with an impressive selection of reggae and soul music.

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Awards season continues this Sunday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles as the biggest names in the music industry strut their stuff at the 55th Grammy Awards. And as we dream about jamming on stage with the likes of  Elton John, The Lumineers, Jack White, and Justin Timberlake (who’s making his return to the Grammy stage after a four-year hiatus from the music scene, swoon), we can’t help but be a little jealous of those who get to do so. Thankfully, some of our favorite hotels understand our musical plight. From on-site recording studios to guitar rental services, these hotels may not promise celeb-studded jam sessions but they’re definitely rocker-approved. And we mean that literally: Everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Stevie Wonder has visited these music meccas of the hotel world. So if you want to drop a beat before the awards or just pick up the vibes left behind by some of your favorite musicians, check out these rock-ready hotels.

Sunset Marquis Hotel & Villas, Los Angeles 

The Nightbird Sound Studio at the Sunset Marquis has hosted A-list recording artists for decades.

The Sunset Marquis cost guests just $8 a night when it first opened in 1963 as a motel for musicians playing at the nearby House of Blues, Roxy, and Viper Room, all located within a few minutes’ walk. Today, there are so many celebrities that continue to traipse through the hotel that the staff doesn’t get starstruck anymore. During Oyster’s two-night stay, Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Joss Stone, and Roger Daltrey of The Who were all spotted at the hotel, validating the hotel’s “paparazzi diversion tactics” that are offered for a nominal fee.

In addition to its innate rocker vibe, the hotel also offers a state-of-the-art recording studio on-site — Nightbird Sound Studios — designed by renowned acoustician George Auspurger. Accessed via a hidden entrance in the underground garage, the space features (in addition to the usual trappings) a Yamaha Mark IV Disklavier piano, one of only two in America, on which Stevie Wonder has been recorded. Every A-list musician has passed through the studio, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Justin Timberlake, and Lil Wayne and Green Day both recorded here within days of Oyster’s visit. High rollers can rent out the studio for personal use, including karaoke birthday parties.

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Snoop Dogg Snoop Lion

Credit: Erik Jordan/startraksphoto.com

Seems like everyone is talking about Snoop Dogg’s, er, Lion’s mid-life identity crisis rebirth. On Tuesday, the New York Times reported on the former rapper’s decision to switch music genres — from the rap to reggae — for his twelfth album, Reincarnated, out later this year. While in Jamaica this past February, Snoop reportedly experienced, well, a reincarnation while visiting with Rastafarian priests (and smoking a significant amount of weed). With a producer, a team of songwriters, and a documentary film crew in tow, Snoop then proceeded to lay down Marley-inspired tracks for his new album. As he (so humbly) claimed, “I have always said I was Bob Marley reincarnated.” But where did this sure-to-be-prolific album take form? At the luxurious — and secluded — Geejam resort, nestled in the foothills of Port Antonio, Jamaica. No stranger to celebrity guests — just before Snoop arrived, Alicia Keys and Akon both spent time in the hotel’s studio — the Geejam was tight-lipped about the rapper-turned-rastafarian’s location during his stay. But now that the word is out, they’ve been tweeting up a storm about Snoop’s visit. We have an insider’s look at the boutique resort with exclusive photos of where Snoop Dogg became Snoop Lion — and if that’s not history in the making, we don’t know what is.

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The U.S. is known for being ahead of the curve in a lot of things (we’re still feeling a bit patriotic after all of Wednesday’s activities), and that includes making music. Paving the way for the rest of the world – from bluegrass to hip-hop, country to surf rock – cities around the country are famous for putting new music on the map. If you’re music junkies like we are, visit our five favorite U.S. spots to hear live music in a variety of venues — and of course, we’ve included our picks for hotels to stay in once the music’s over.

The City: Los Angeles

L.A. has long been a hub for musicians and mainstay venues on the musical scene are still hot destinations for touring bands, especially those looking to be discovered. In recent years, an influx of young creatives has brought on a whole new age of music that’s less starry-eyed and more visceral.

Hollywood Bowl; Credit: Flickr by Margaret Napier

Hollywood Bowl; Credit: Flickr by Margaret Napier

Where To Hear It:

Nestled in the Hollywood Hills, The Hollywood Bowl is an iconic music venue known for its large outdoor amphitheater and BYOB wine and food policy, which creates a one-of-a-kind atmosphere for viewing big ticket acts such as Animal Collective and The National. On the other side of the spectrum, Hotel Cafe is a dimly lit, intimate space showcasing up-and-coming talent, leaning towards promoting female singer-songwriters like Meiko.

The Pool at The Orlando

The Pool at The Orlando

Where to Sleep: The Orlando – West Hollywood

Nobody walks in L.A. – except on the rare stretch of street where this cheap but chic hotel is located. Besides prime location, The Orlando offers free Wi-Fi (helpful in planning your nightly outings), two saunas and a pool for post-music show recharging. Plus, it’s pet-friendly for those divas who won’t leave home without their dog. A short drive from Sunset Boulevard, where many of L.A.’s famous venues reside, and well placed for offshoots to hip neighborhoods such as Silver Lake and Echo Park, this hotel is a music lover’s dream.

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Credit: Edward Simpson/ Flick.r

In case you guys didn’t know, we’re huge music fans here at Oyster. (See here.) So we decided to team up with our go-to source for cool bands, artists, and shows, Relix magazine, to put together a comprehensive Summer 2012 Music Festival Guide. Inside, you’ll be able to find Oyster’s picks for area lodging, while Relix has the dates, lineups, and all the details you forgot to check because you were busy picking out a fringed vest or cut-off shorts to wear. So whether you’re gearing up to see Red Hot Chili Peppers at Lollapalooza, My Morning Jacket at the Newport Folk Festival, or Neil Young at Outside Lands, Relix and Oyster have you covered.

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Don’t worry: If you’ve been hearing a “mmmcha, mmmcha, mmmcha,” beat  growing steadily louder, you’re not going crazy. It’s just the approach of the ULTRA Music Festival, which kicks off in Miami in less than two weeks. Electronic music fans from around the world will be flocking to Bayfront Park for DJ sets from the likes of Tiesto, Justice, Duck Sauce, David Guetta, Armin Van Buuren, and even the pioneers of electronic music themselves, Kraftwerk. Luckily for festival goers, Miami serves as a perfect backdrop, providing plenty of ways to keep the parties going late into the night (and in many cases right on through to the next). Our guide to the ULTRA Festival should help you book the perfect room to fit your personality.

The Outdoor Pool at The Setai; Miami, FL

If you’ve hired David Guetta to play one of your parties, consider…

The Setai

Miami is known for many things, but subtle flaunting of one’s wealth has never been one of them. The Setai is the epitome of this crowd, where gorgeous design meets massive rooms (they start at 600 square feet) and a killer location on a posh stretch of Collins Avenue. You can expect to pay out the nose for the luxury, of course, but if you’re looking to be surrounded by the members of the 1% who also love electronic music, it’s almost impossible to do better.

Our pro tip: The on-site restaurants might look pretty, but the food is actually so-so at best. Luckily, most of Miami’s best restaurants are just half a block away.

Find more hot spots after the jump!

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Hipster culture is something that has been mocked since mainstream culture became aware of its rise during the 2000s. In fact, making fun of someone’s flannel shirt, skinny jeans, or preference of PBR has become so commonplace, it’s practically passé. But all of this attention hasn’t deterred the culture from working its way into hotels around the world. So put down your second-hand paperback, throw on your favorite vinyl record, and take a look at some of our favorite “hipster-style” hotel amenities.

The Ace Hotel and Swim ClubPalm Springs, CA

 

The Swim Club Pool at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club; Palm Springs, CA

The Ace Hotel and Swim Club has a way of wooing the residents of Silver Lake and Echo Park away from their Intelligentsia coffees for weekends in the desert. There’s an undeniable party vibe at the hotel: like its sister properties, weekends are host to music events (especially well known DJs), where the two pools become lined with chest tattoos and vintage sunglasses. Rooms have retro touches like radios, record players and vinyl. And even though the nearby Coachella music festival is way too mainstream to be considered a hipster party anymore, the bands that play it are just as likely to end up on a Gorilla vs. Bear post as anyone. Just make sure you don’t forget to hit up the photo booth in the lobby before you head back to LA.

Read about more so-cool-they’re-not-cool-but-still-ironic amenities after the jump. Read More »

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Every so often, us Oyster editors get lucky enough to chat with industry tastemakers and traveling superstars. Most recently, we were lucky enough to grab the Kleier women (Michele, Sabrina and Samantha) in between promoting their new novel, Hot Property, and filming HGTV‘s “Selling New York” to ask them how they travel in style. Read on to find out how New York City’s real estate elite (and top reality stars!) answered our burning questions.

Credit: Bill Brioux

Occupation: Real estate brokers, TV personalities, authors and mothers!
Favorite Destination: Anywhere with each other, but we can usually be found in New York City
Travel Soundtrack: Billy Joel’s “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” and Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” because when we’re not in New York, we’re still thinking about it!
Ideal Vacation in Three Words: Sun, sand, and family.
Favorite Hotel: Villa D’Este in Lake Como, Italy, especially if George Clooney is there.
Ideal Travel Partner: Each other and each of our (matching!) dogs, Roxy, Lola, Dolly and Dixie.
Airport Food Is: Never our first choice.
We Never Travel Without: Our dogs.
Poolside or Oceanside: Oceanside.
Carry-On or Checked: Carry-on if possible (which is rare) or FedEx ahead. [Ed. note: Smart move, ladies!]
Big Resort or Boutique Hotel: Generally boutique, but it mostly depends on the destination.
Room Service or Dining Out: Dining out, unless it’s an early morning after a late night!

Check out the Kleiers and the rest of the “Selling New York” cast on Thursday nights at 9:30 PM EST on HGTV. Their first novel, “Hot Property,” is available on Amazon.com.

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So, you scored tickets to Coachella? Sweet. Even if the festival is on the verge of becoming overpriced and over-exposed, this year’s lineup is practically too good to pass up. There are your requisite superstars (the Black Keys, Radiohead, and Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg), your high-profile band reunions (Mazzy Star and At The Drive In), indie buzzbands (the Weeknd and Neon Indian), and everything in between. And while tickets and flights may have set you back a fortune alone, the idea of pitching a tent in the desert for a weekend doesn’t appeal to everyone — especially if you’re not 18 anymore. Thankfully, the resort town of Palm Springs is only a 30-minute drive away with more hip hotels than you’d expect from a once sleepy golf town. As die-hard music fans and hotel experts, we’ve rounded up the best hotels and matched them to the fans that fit them best.

The music you love: Radiohead, the Black Keys, Pulp, Dr. Dre & Snoop Dog
The right hotel for you: The Movie Colony Hotel

Pool at the Movie Colony Hotel; Palm Springs, CA

For all the indie and underground music buzz it generates, Coachella still snags a handful of top-tier verified rock stars. This year certainly doesn’t disappoint: we’re some of the biggest Radiohead and Black Keys fans here at Oyster.com. But a huge aspect of the music experience is taking part in the legacy, to be able to say you were there when history was made. For fans like these, we recommend the storied Movie Colony Hotel. The property has played host to some of the greats, including Jim Morrison, Marilyn Monroe, and Frank Sinatra, and sports a ’60s-inspired decor that celebrates its history. The pool is open 24-hours (albeit a little tiny), so you can feel free to take a dip after a day in the desert. Hitting up Coachella with your fan club in tow? Check out the townhouses, whose living rooms open directly into the pool area. Just don’t pull any old-school-rock “I’m a golden god!” moments and jump in from the roof.
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A surfer balances atop his board at Waikiki Beach, Oahu

A surfer balances atop his board at Waikiki Beach, Oahu

Perhaps you fell in love with the ukulele during your last trip to Hawaii. Or maybe you’ve seen the viral video of Jake Shimabukuro playing Gently Weeps. Regardless of your inspiration, a visit to Hawaii offers plenty of opportunities to learn to play ukulele — for free. All over Oahu, you’ll find lessons well suited to the beginner, as well as some welcoming groups who gather for a regular kani ka pila, or Hawaiian style jam session. Here are just a few:

Royal Hawaiian Center – Situated in the heart of Waikiki near its namesake, the famous pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the center offers free ukulele lessons Tuesday through Friday at 10 a.m. at the Pa‘ina Lanai food court.

Windward Mall – On the third Thursday of every month, the Ukulele Club of Hawaii offers free lessons for players of all ages and ability levels at Windward Mall’s Center Court. Various local artists participate and offer instructions for budding musicians. Bring your own ukulele or borrow one (there’s a limited supply). Instrument tuning begins at 5 p.m. and lessons start at 6 p.m. Read More »

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